Beetroot juice dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance.
In a recent made study by Andrew Jones' group at the University of Exeter it was found that when cycling subjects are given beetroot juice with or without nitrates that it affected finishing times significantly. On distances of 2.5 and 10 mile, total time decreased by three percent when half a liter of beetroot juice still containing nitrates was consumed just before the beginning of the time trial.
At the start of the race they consumed a pint of beetroot juice which had no nitrates. They then repeated the two routes on a different day, but this time drank beetroot juice with its nitrite. When the cyclists drank the nitrite-rich, ordinary beetroot juice they were 11 seconds quicker over the 2.5 mile and 45 seconds quicker over the10 mile route.
This may not look like much of an increase, but, the top two riders in last year's Tour de France were only 39 seconds apart.
These results show an improvement in performance that could, at competition level, make a real difference -- especially in events like the Tour de France where winning margins can be very tight.
Nitrates are known to affect blood flow in two ways:
(1) nitrate can widen blood vessels which allows for a greater volume of blood to flow and,
(2) it is known to permit muscles to work more efficiently with respect to oxygen consumption. Baseball to many extents is nothing like cycling, but I think we may be able to draw two different applications to baseball. Beetroot juice may be useful to deal with season-long stamina issues and it might also be useful to starting pitchers. That said, this information still requires quite a bit of testing, so do not expect beetroot juice to rapidly alter overall performance ability.
There is a lot of evidence pointing to beetroot juice being not only an effective performance enhancing supplement, but also the end effect is greater than anything produced for hGH.